All Hail Rhaenys Velaryon, House Of The Dragon's True Queen

This article contains spoilers for the latest episode of "House of the Dragon." 

Being a woman in Westeros is no picnic, even if you're from a royal family and can ride a dragon. No matter what, women are always subject to the whims of the men around them and can never hold power in the same way, simply on account of their sex. It's ridiculous and infuriating, and in season 1's penultimate episode, "The Green Council," we also get a chance to see how badly sexism hurt all seven kingdoms by denying them Queen Rhaenys (Eve Best). Rhaenys was supposed to be Queen, as she was the only child of the Prince of Dragonstone and was declared by her grandmother, the queen at the time, "our queen to be." Instead, she was passed over and the succession went to her uncle, then to her cousin, Viserys (Paddy Considine). 

Rhaenys has been neglected and passed over by her Targaryen cousins too many times. When Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke) seizes the Iron Throne for her son, Aegon (Tom Glynn-Carney), and holds Rhaenys captive so that she can't take her dragon and go join the true heir, Rhaenyra (Emma D'Arcy), Rhaenys finally has enough. No one is keeping her from her dragon, and she shows them all the true power of Targaryens when she bursts through Aegon's coronation ceremony on dragonback. While she could have ended everyone's problems with one "dracarys," she didn't — but she's still the Queen that Westeros deserves.

'The Iron Throne was yours by blood and temperament'

When Alicent makes her play for the throne for Aegon, she knows that Rhaenys has already aligned herself to Rhaenyra and her brood. Rhaenys' granddaughters are betrothed to marry Rhaenyra's sons, uniting the Targaryens and Velaryons once more. Not only that, but Rhaenys has a dragon, Meleys, and dragons are the ultimate weapons in Westeros. Each of Alicent's children has a dragon as well, but she knows that every single fire-breathing reptile counts. She tries to convince Rhaenys to join her side with promises that she can have Driftmark and pass it down to her granddaughters, but Rhaenys wants no part of it. Why would she support King Aegon, the biggest dumpster fire in all of the Seven Kingdoms, who is guaranteed to only serve as a puppet for his mother and the Hand, Ser Otto (Rhys Ifans)? 

Not only is Aegon a terrible choice for king, but what Alicent and the others are doing to Rhaenyra, the king's true heir, is the same thing done to Rhaenys when she was supposed to take the throne. As she tells Alicent, her house's words "are not fickle," and she had already sworn her allegiance to Viserys' daughter. 

The bond between dragon and rider

When Rhaenys manages to escape the Red Keep, she explains that she isn't willing to abandon Meleys, her dragon. The relationship between dragon and dragonrider is still sort of a mystery, but I can only imagine that they share a kind of closeness that's hard to describe. After all, a dragon will only ever allow itself to be ridden by one person, and can only take on another rider if that person dies. Rhaenys doesn't want Meleys to rot away in the dragon pit, or worse, be killed in order to prevent her from being used by those sympathetic to Rhaenyra. 

Not only is Meleys powerful because she's a dragon, but she's the fastest living dragon in the world at the time of "House of the Dragon," making her extra formidable. Meleys was originally ridden by Viserys and Daemon's (Matt Smith) mother, who died in childbirth. Shortly after that, the teenage Rhaenys claimed the dragon for her own, and even arrived at her own wedding on dragonback. How badass is that? So instead of fleeing by boat, Rhaenys made her way down into the dragon pit and burst through the floor during the coronation ceremony before flying off to Dragonstone to meet with her allies.

Motives for mercy

After Rhaenys blasts her way through the floor and takes out a whole bunch of townsfolk who have been gathered to watch the coronation of King Aegon II, she spins Meleys around to face the entire assembled royal family, including Alicent, Aegon, Prince Aemond, Lord Otto, and Ser Cole. Basically, she could take out the entirety of "the Green" with one hot blast of dragon fire, but she chooses not to. While there are obvious plot reasons for not wanting her to eliminate the entire source of conflict in one fell swoop, she also has some personal reasons for not going totally homicidal. The peasants were collateral damage for her escape, but unleashing fire on the helpless royals just standing there would be cold-blooded murder. 

Even Alicent was reticent to order the murder of Rhaenyra during the small council meeting where they decided to move ahead with their coup, and she and Rhaenys' conversation about helping the men rule without violence might have stuck while she sat there and stared them down. Maybe she's just seen too much violence, after losing both of her children, and she doesn't want to take out more of her extended family. Whatever her reasons, she had a moment of mercy that shows she's not prone to Targaryen bloodlust or madness. If only they had let her be queen all of those years before, none of this would have happened. 

New episodes of "House of the Dragon" premiere Sundays on HBO and HBO Max.